I share a lot of personal details on my blog, things about how I see the world, the journey I’ve been on, how I’ve experienced it, the lessons I wish to share with my daughters, and even some of the things that have been a shadow in my past. And even in the low times, there is usually a happy ending and closure that is satisfying.
But this post will focus on the things I’ve learned, often the hard way, about some of the more inconvenient truths that we aren’t told (enough) growing up that doesn’t have a happily ever after. The reality is that we’ll fail, we’ll flounder, we’ll lose, and we’ll do harm. That in our lifetimes, we will not just be victims, we will also be perpetrators.
How about we start with a few familiar ones…
1. The truth hurts.
It does. And while “truth” is often relative to the teller, it’s no less hurtful to hear.
2. Bad things happen to good people.
There isn’t a reason. I don’t care what anyone tells you, even if one is offered, it won’t ever feel like enough, because it isn’t. Sometimes there won’t be anything that will ever make it “better.” See also: Life isn’t fair.
3. Sometimes you don’t get what you want, even if you deserve it.
And it won’t make you feel better to know that you were qualified, capable, or any other word to describe your deserving. It won’t always work out like it “should.”
4. Everyone makes mistakes.
You will make a lot of mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes will change your or someone else’s life forever. Forever. And there won’t be a way to take it back or make it better. You’ll be made to live with it. Sometimes those people will be strangers and sometimes it will be someone you love.
5. You won’t appreciate all that you have until it is gone.
Sometimes it takes a loss to realize what was there, and you’ll undoubtedly find yourself in this position. Part of learning is losing. They’re called hard lessons for a reason.
6. Love hurts.
No one tells you when you’re young how much love can suck. That love isn’t always warm and fuzzy. It stings, and burns, brings you to the brink of the darkest, deepest despair and it can be incredibly lonely and debilitating. We pursue it anyway…and it isn’t just that it can make you do stupid things, or that someone can find their way into your heart only to smash it into a thousand pieces… Love can break you in half like no other force can and for as high as it can take you, the fall is equally far. It isn’t just what another person can inflict with damage, it’s what will be asked of you in the process. The biggest thing no one tells you about love is that sometimes the greatest act of love is walking away if that is what is required… because with real love it was never about you in the first place.
7. You can’t change the past and you can’t predict the future.
A friend of mine with terminal cancer put it all in perspective for me… as she talked about how she would tell her children that they would lose their mother far too soon in their young lives. How she knew that they would probably never fully know what she wanted for them, how much she loved them, how she knew they’d miss her and that in solitary moments, milestones, holidays, and that in every other breath they’d take a part of them would never be the same, and that there would be a shade of sadness that they would carry with them always. “I can’t change that for them,” she explained. “I won’t be here then…I am here today.”
So, in the knowledge of what will happen, what you will do, what will be done unto you, and of what is unavoidable, there is a shred of good news. You have the right now. This very moment to make the most of what is being offered, or what has been taken, destroyed, or levied. You have what remains. Things don’t happen for any other reason than the ones you create for yourself in the aftermath… you aren’t going to get any more or any less than that.
You get a decision, maybe a series of decisions – ones that maybe you never wanted to make, ones you can’t begin to understand the reasons for, but ones that are unequivocally your own. You’ll have choices… perhaps unexpected or undesired, inconvenient even… but it’s up to you which ones to make and how to continue on once they’ve been made.
So, choose wisely. (That might be the biggest lesson of all.)